IT’S THE KIND OF CANAANITE CITY Joshua would have loved to have destroyed: Nahariya by the sea, in northern Israel. Who knows, maybe he did take it out.
The ruins of this fort-like city in what is now northern Israel date back to his time, some 3,400 years ago. And they show evidence of getting burned to the ground at least four times.
The ruins are located in the middle of the Israeli city of Nahariya. North of Haifa. Nahariya is Israel’s most northern port city on the Mediterranean coast.
What’s a little odd is that these ruins are going to end up in the basement of a high-rise apartment complex.
This reflects a problem builders have in Israel. Whenever they start poking around in the ground, they run the risk of digging into their country’s ancient past. And they find ruins like this, which they have to report and find a way to preserve.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, the government agency that oversees ancient ruins, agreed to allow builders to integrate these ruins into the basement, which will be open to the public.
The fort city, often described as a citadel, sat on the beach and seems to have served as a business center for sailors who transported products along the Mediterranean coast.
The ruins were discovered in 1980. But they were not carefully excavated until last summer, 2015.
Inside the burnt ruins archaeologists found ceramic figurines made to look like humans and animals. They also found bronze weapons, pottery, grape seeds, wine jars with remains of wine that reportedly has the fragrance of a good vintage – though I have no idea how anyone could sniff that out.
No writing, however. Archaeologists have yet to find any evidence of alphabet-style writing from the area during the Bronze Age, when the Bible says Joshua invaded the land then known as Canaan.
So far, I think the coolest thing about this discovery is the lengths to which the Israeli government seems committed to preserving the record of its ancient past. Enough that they would work it into the design of an apartment complex. That’s commitment. And, perhaps, that’s a reflection of how important tradition is to the Jewish people.
For more about Joshua
- Video: When the Jordan River Stopped for Joshua
- Joshua’s strategy for killing Canaanites
- Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0, pages 274-276
- Complete Guide to the Bible, pages 61-70
- A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible, pages 55-65